Day 2 – Getting back into the groove.

It’s been almost a year since I swung axes the last time. It’s been 2 for Lar. It was an easy choice then to pick Grotto Falls as our today’s destination. Trip to a place like that (it essentially is a 2pitch, 50m WI2/3+ cragging area) gave us a chance to refresh some of the essential winter skills, but also test out some new packing and layering sytems

With bags already packed (mostly) the previous night we got up at 7am, rushed to an eggs&bacon place across the street and hit the road.20170304_074440.jpg

The forecast had snow for most of the day (which made a decision to go to Grotto Falls even easier (it has no avalanche danger). 20170304_085601.jpg

These conditions meant slow driving speed but also added a Scottish Winter feel in March. Our last year’s it was definitely more mild, springy feel to it – with higher temperatures and almost no precipitation. This year is all winter.

The walking in was nice and short. The canyon looks really amazing and is a very popular hiking spot for the masses.20170304_092812.jpg

At the end of the canyon  the first thing you see are ‘majestic’ His(left) & Hers(right) falls  – unfortunately upon closer inspections they weren’t in condition anymore. His was only supported by thin, cracked 2m off the ground pillar, Hers was mostly rotten.20170304_094206.jpg

We quickly turned right and walked up to the actual climb and just started to do laps.

1st round was me leading 1st pitch from the left, steeper side, with Lar leading the 2nd pitch, shorter pitch.

Below: me going at 1st pitch.P3040015.JPG

Below: Lar leading 2nd pitch.P3040037.JPG

After that  PG did both 2 pitches in 1 go, but utilized the left wall by the top (it’s the section to Lar’s left on above picture) – definitely the most challenging part on this generally easy ground. Lar and I climbed side by side behind.P3040056.JPG

Above: PG just before the crux part.

After that I did the whole thing in 1 go ground up – this time going on the super right side. PG and Lar followed.
Below: me going at it again.P3040068.JPG

At this point more climbers started to show up so we decided to go down, pack and head back to Canmore. Below: PG and Lar by His&Hers.
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First point of order – Elk Burger at Hogs Head – a tradition at this point ;).
A bit of faffing around town, visit to local climbing store for some last minute supplies (Lar was short on gloves, PG got another Laser Speed ice screw – I got a book).

I guess today’s day showed us that when it comes to ice climbing there is always room for improvement. One can never be sure that everything will be ok The sport is very rewarding, but also can be quite challenging and is always very serious. A small mistake can have serious consequences. Even the most experience people can get into big trouble, even on  (relatively) easy ground.

Personally I was happy that I was able to jump straight in on the sharp end of the rope (even though the climb was uncomfortably easier than was PG normally climbs). Last year it took me a week of following the guys to start leading on easy ground on my own.
That doesn’t mean though that I’ll be jumping on harder routes straight away. As a matter of fact I’m happy with what I do now. We’ll see how it goes.

As for the next few days – it’s been snowing heavily, and a lot of places we wanted to visit are either inaccessible, under heavy avalanche danger or both. Luckily there are other places, and with a bit of research we won’t be pushing our luck.

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